Relationships: Exhortation

READ 2 TIMOTHY 2:14–21

Leadership is an art. As such it consists of skills that can be studied, practiced and mastered. Effective leaders may be found in the boardroom and in the boiler room. They may be teachers, coaches, bankers, lawyers, service station attendants or food servers. Among the relational skills effective leaders cultivate is that of exhortation. Exhorters are people who spur others on to higher levels of achievement.

In doing so, they help turn their constituents into leaders. Effective leaders accomplish extraordinary things by enabling others to act.

The apostle Paul demonstrated this ability in 2 Timothy 2:14–21. Paul began with a general exhortation for Timothy to “present [him]self to God as one approved” (v. 15). He then offered specific guidelines as to how Timothy could accomplish this through his study and teaching of God’s Word. Finally, he offered a negative illustration followed by a positive one: Timothy was not to be like Hymenaus and Philetus, who had strayed from the truth. Instead, he was to be like a gold vessel in a great house. That vessel, when kept clean and polished, would be used by the Master for a noble purpose.

Effective leaders, like Paul, use a variety of communication techniques to exhort those around them to strive for higher levels of performance. In so doing, they enable those they touch to be better prepared for their own leadership roles.

Take another look at the passage and review Paul’s approach to exhorting Timothy. How do you think Timothy responded to Paul’s words? We know that, through Paul’s exhortation and the Spirit’s work in his life, Timothy became a great leader in the early church. Is there someone you know who might be spurred on to great things as a result of your exhortation? How can you adapt Paul’s techniques to your own situation?

Exhortation and Who I Am

Some of us are more comfortable with confrontation than others, but there are times when confrontation is the most loving thing we can do for another person. Similarly, being rebuked by another person can be uncomfortable, but our openness and willingness to respond to correction are critical components of our character. Turn to Mark 6:14–29 for a negative illustration of a prophetic exhortation and the recipient’s response.

Exhortation and How It Works

When people make inadvertent or careless mistakes, the leader’s responsibility to exhort them is tough enough. When people sin and need exhortation, the job is just that much more difficult. Through Paul, God provides help in Galatians 6:1–5.

Exhortation and Who God Is

God always cares for his people and desires what is best for them. This is why he taught and exhorted the children of Israel through the many prophets he sent into their midst. Their future, for good or for ill, depended upon their responses to God’s loving exhortations. Turn to Deuteronomy 28:1–19 for an account of Moses’ final exhortation to his people.

Exhortation and What I Do

Few things are more difficult for a leader than to give a firm rebuke to a team member. Yet the apostle Paul urges his readers to do just that. Bob Briner helps us to identify those situations in which a rebuke is appropriate. Turn to 2 Timothy 4:2 for today’s reading.

Passage to memorize this week:
COLOSSIANS 3:16–17 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom . . . And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.


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